by Joe Ball | CNBNews Contributor
Remembering Rifleman Training I’m going to be in a book.
It probably will not be read by many people – but
I’m still flattered. The book is about the U.S. Army’s Camp
Brekinridge, Kentucky, in the year 1951, during the
Korean War. That’s where thousands of draftees were sent to train to be infantrymen. I was one of them
The author is Anne Audette, of Westland, Michigan.
She wrote her first book on the subject, already
published, and is now completing a second book , into
which I’m to be included.
In May, 1951, I received notice that I was to report
to the Beury Building, Broad St. & Erie Avenues to be
inducted and sworn in as a U.S. Army Soldier.
As my parents, Beatrice & Milton Ball, and my
three much younger sisters, Barbara, Dana & Jayne
stood in the doorway of our home, at 6429 N. Park
Ave., and waved me off. I walked around the corner,
alone, to Broad St. and took the #55 bus to my
unknown future. I saw it as an adventure.
The next 10 or so months became – to this time –
the hardest year of my life.
I was being trained to fight in Korea, against the
North Koreans and their allies, the Chinese.
I was issued an M-1 rifle.
And I was taught how to dismantle it, and put it back
together in the dark.
I never was able to master that.
I had nightmares. Nightmares of being on the front
line, with Chinese troops attacking our position – and my
rifle didn’t work. Nightmares!
I was also trained in hand-to-hand bayonet fighting.
That was not for me! I’m a city boy. I know how to
have a fist fight. That’s it.
During 13 weeks of infantry training I got pneumonia
before week 14, and went into the Army hospital for two
weeks – then was assigned to another 16 weeks of basic
training. No fun.
Memories Still With Me
Basic training included several really – for me –
… Lowering myself into a narrow hole in the
ground, standing upright – and having a tank go over
the hole. I was about 6’ 1”, and the hole I thought could
“accommodate “ someone only up to 6’.
I thought my helmet and skull were going to be pushed
into my body. It’s 65 years ago, – and I still remember the fear.
… Going into a gas chamber, carrying a gas mask.
We had to put it on while holding our breath.
Then, & now that was a reminiscent to me of
the Nazi gas chambers where millions of Jews were
murdered only 10 years previously.
Other Memories …
… Guard duty outside in the cold, rifle on shoulder,
four hours on, four hours off.
… K.P. Kitchen Police. Washing the biggest pots one
could imagine – at 3:30 AM.
… Cutting grass – by hand, bending over and
waving a scythe. For hours.
Re: The last two items KP and grass cutting, they
were called “details”, and all of us trainees worked on
how to avoid them. We “tried to disappear”.
… Fire Duty. We took turns being up at night to tend
to the “heat” stoves in our barrack.
… Marches / hikes, in full field gear – and when
getting a 10-minute break falling asleep immediately. In
a field. On a road. On a firing range.
… Crawling in mud under barbed wire with machine
guns firing above our head. I suspect were blanks or loud
speakers. But no one lifted a head up . . .
… There were occasional weekend passes. Most of
us went to Evansville, Indiana. It was a time of honky-tonk
bars, beer & learning how to play pool – which I never
It is to be noted that those who trained us were
usually veterans of Korea. They wore the 101st Airborne
Patch. We were not airborne trainees. But that same patch
was on our uniform. It made us proud.
After the total of about 29 weeks of infantry/rifleman
training I was assigned to a leadership course. Four
weeks. I still remember what was drilled into us: “Results
count”. “Only Results count”. Intent, trying , doing ones
best – only Results count. Then I got fortunate.
While my primary MOS was rifleman, my secondary MOS was reporter-writer.
There was a need in Wurzburg, Germany for that
skill. (I earlier had four years work experience in the
Newsroom/City Desk at the Philadelphia Inquirer. I
also was editor and principal writer for the Inquirer’s
employee magazine). The Army sent me there.
I sincerely feel that assignment saved my life.
(Postscript: I returned to my former job in the
Newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer in 1953. I left
shortly thereafter to become assistant to the publisher
of a Chilton Co. national business magazine. A year later,
in 1956 I started my own publishing, broadcasting and
advertising business. That was 60 years ago – and I’m
still at it!)
First published on November 9, 2016/ ACT BLOG
Joe Ball, Philadelphia-area publisher, advertising agency owner and radio show producer, has been named chairman of the U.S. International Film & Video Festival judges committee in the Business-to-Business category. The subject materials are videos submitted by businesses, production firms and advertising agencies from throughout the U.S. and internationally. Ball continues to lead American Advertising Services, 29 Bala Ave., Ste. 117, Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004, a firm he founded 55 years ago.
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